Whenever I hear a movie from the 90s has been remade, I either groan or roll my eyes but when I heard Jurassic Park would come back, I could barely contain my joy. Jurassic Park is a defining movie from my childhood. It scared me. It thrilled me. It made me want to be a velociraptor so bad. If you are in your mid-twenties and you never, not even once, tried to emulate a dinosaur growl… I don’t believe you.
In honor of Jurassic World, I began reminiscing about all the movies that left an impression on me as a kid and molded my taste in cinema before I even knew it. While most of these came out in the 90’s here is a list of all the movies that defined my childhood:
1 - Jurassic Park (1993)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough
As mentioned before, no movie before Jurassic Park had scared me and fascinated me so much. Equally wanting to visit Jurassic Park and stay away from it, Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece induced my generation’s love for dinosaurs and anything related to our world’s prehistoric era. And kudos to him for making a glass of water terrifying as it rippled to the stomping of the unseen T-Rex.
2 - Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Directed by: James Cameron
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick
An Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is mandatory for this list and while I do have a soft spot for movies like Kindergarten Cop, Terminator blew my young mind. The leather jacket, the motorcycle… could Arnold have been any cooler? However, the skeleton Terminator of the first movie was responsible for many nightmares.
3 - The Fifth Element (1997)
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Chris Tucker
Leeloo was the first female character I remember being totally badass, or at least that’s the ranking I decided to give her. Fifth Element was a wacky representation of a futuristic world but it had an interesting storyline and the graphic novel look that made it so fun. People who say The Fifth Element is a guilty pleasure are wrong. No one should ever be ashamed of loving this movie. Chicken…good!
4 - Hook (1991)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins
No one went through their childhood without at least once wishing they could fly. Neverland has always been a magical place but when it was brought to live-action in Hook, it had never felt more real. It was my mission from the ages of eight to ten to become part of the Lost Boys or create my own group. I nearly succeeded in the latter.
5 - The Addams Family (1991)
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman
Never has there been a cooler family than this eccentric bunch. Wednesday Adams is my spirit animal and the romance between Gomez and Morticia made a strong impression on me. To this day, I consider them to be one of the best couples ever portrayed on film.
6 - Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Starring: Rick Moranis, Marcia Strassman, Amy O'Neill, Robert Oliveri
It is a good thing I can’t recall the amount of times I watched this movie but I am certain it’s an embarrassing number. Friendly ants, gigantic Oreos and Lego houses. Who knew so much goes on in one’s own backyard?
7 - A Goofy Movie (1995)
Directed by: Kevin Lima
Starring: Bill Farmer, Jason Marsden, Jim Cummings, Kellie Martin
While Disney movies deserve a list of their own, I couldn’t help including this one. A Goofy Movie is a touching father and son story that helped me understand a parent’s perspective and how unfair we could be to them because we consider them embarrassing or annoying. It had a fantastic soundtrack and original songs you can still rock to.
8 - Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Starring: Robin Williams, Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein
A Robin William’s movie is a staple in every 90’s kid’s movie collection. Watching him dress up as a big English woman (with a Scottish accent) just so he could be close to his children ensued a lot of heartfelt moments and laugh out loud comedy. Who can ever forget his fake boobs on fire?
9 - 3 Ninjas (1992)
Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Starring: Victor Wong, Michael Treanor, Max Elliott Slade, Chad Power
There are plenty of awesome martial art movies and while I could make a list of all of them, this one reminds me most of my child hood. Three brothers, Rocky, Colt and Tum Tum, trained by their grandfather must take on some criminals and defend themselves when the FBI can no longer handle the case.
10 - Coneheads (1993)
Directed by: Steve Barron
Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Michelle Burke
You know that weird person you once dated and erased from your memory but every time you remember it makes you cringe? Coneheads is my weird person in the movie world. Such a strange idea, such a weird Dan Aykroyd and yet it all seemed to work.
11 - The Mask (1994)
Directed by: Chuck Russell
Starring: Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Peter Riegert
Very much like Robin Williams, it is mandatory to also include a Jim Carrey movie. Two decades later, I still randomly break into a Cuban Pete number and mostly everybody understands and sings along. The ones who don’t should never be considered friends.
12 - Matilda (1996)
Directed by: Danny DeVito
Starring: Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, Pam Ferris
I owe Matilda for my love of books. I felt a connection to her, the frustration of being undermined by adults and the journey one could embark on by just sitting down with a book. It’s an encouraging movie, a fun battle between children’s innocence and adult cynicism that only Roald Dahl could have written so brilliantly.
13 - Blank Check (1994)
Directed by: Rupert Wainwright
Starring: Brian Bonsall, Karen Duffy, Miguel Ferrer, James Rebhorn
Eating gallons of ice cream, driving around in a limo and having a slide from your bedroom to the pool? What is not to love about this movie?! It was every kid’s dream. Even though the movie’s message was that money eventually ends and the people you love is what’s most important, I couldn’t help wish I could end up with a blank check one day.
14 - Casper (1995)
Directed by: Brad Silberling
Starring: Bill Pullman, Christina Ricci, Cathy Moriarty
Being a fan of the cartoon series, it was no question this movie would be on my list. I loved Cristina Ricci’s character, the dusty old mansion and the friendly ghost. The friendship between the two was sweet with a touch of romance that made us root for Casper and his big moment at the Halloween party.
15 - Wild America (1997)
Directed by: William Dear
Starring: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Devon Sawa, Scott Bairstow
Blame it on my crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas, but Wild America was watched in my house at least four times a week. Based on the real story of a narrator of wildlife documentaries, Marty Stouffer, the movie follows three brothers on their quest to film American Wild Life in a time when nature documentaries were not considered to be of interest to the general public.
16 - Little Giants (1994)
Directed by: Duwayne Dunham
Starring: Rick Moranis, Ed O'Neill, Shawna Waldron, Devon Sawa
There was no movie in my time that rooted more for the underdog as Little Giants did. A face off between the misfits and the future jocks, a popular coach and his younger geeky brother, the movie shows that even if you get beaten 99 times by the big guy, one win is all it takes to become champions.
17 - Harriet the Spy (1996)
Directed by: Bronwen Hughes
Starring: Michelle Trachtenberg, Vanessa Lee Chester, Rosie O'Donnell
I always liked to write but I knew I wanted to be a writer after seeing Harriet the Spy. I am not ashamed to say it. A kid’s movie inspired my dream job. The movie dealt with some realities about being a kid that no other live action movie had shown me before. Losing the people who understand you, dealing with parents focused on their busy lives, bullying and hurting your friends were all subjects that hit close to home for many kids my age. Yet Harriet the Spy deals with them with great resolutions, an interesting inside to Harriet’s journal and lots of cool gadgets. I went through a hardcore spy phase. That is all I will say about that.
18 - Dennis the Menace (1993)
Directed by: Nick Castle
Starring: Walter Matthau, Mason Gamble, Joan Plowright
Has there ever been a better accidental prankster than this kid? If you are into the villain getting what’s coming to him and then multiplying it by a hundred and then elevating it to the square root, Dennis will take care of that for you.
19 - The Little Princess (1939)
Directed by: Walter Lang, William A. Seiter
Starring: Shirley Temple, Richard Greene, Anita Louise
While the remake came out in 1995 – a solid remake as well- I was first introduced to the Shirley Temple version by my grandfather. There was a running joke in my family that I looked like Shirley Temple because of my curly hair – that was the extent of our similarities. However, I was glad to have been introduced to the original and therefore introduced to this female legend. Her sweetness and her charm are always a treat to watch in this childhood classic
20 - Hocus Pocus (1993)
Directed by: Kenny Ortega
Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy
Bette Midler dressed as a witch singing ‘I Put a Spell on You’ still brings me so much joy. When people are celebrating Halloween by drinking booze and watching horror movies, I watch Hocus Pocus and eat cupcakes. While the computer effects look dated nowadays, the movie is still good clean fun with awesome costumes, evil funny witches, and a mission to save Salem by sunrise.
It might be a biased opinion but the 90’s made incredible movies that appealed to both children and adults alike. Sure, we can praise other decades and rightfully so but as Icona Pop once said, "I’m from the 90s, bitch".
What movies defined your childhood? Let me know in comments!